The infamous and oft unappreciated DDR is back again for the PS3, Wii and Xbox 360. I didn’t even know of this title until I was in my local Gamestop trying to get a new DDR mat for my 360, and the Internet is hardly aware that an Xbox or Wii version even exists, after doing a few searches. It seems even Konami forgot about the XBox 360 version as there is no manual for it on their site.
Enough about how this is soon to be a forgotten relic and more on to how this compared with over a decade of Dance Dance games, or even how it holds up in this generation filled with Just Dance’s and Dance Central.
The first thing I noticed when starting up the game is the sore excuse for a song list as it’s mostly filled with current pop hits such as Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” and Ke$ha’s “Animal”, nary a hint of the classics to be found. Despite this I hopped into several songs and was presented with a newer, more refined looking DDR game, with the step zone centred and taking up much less of the screen real estate, but the mechanics remain exactly the same. The background visuals don’t necessarily ‘cash in’ on the greater space allotted as there are no music videos for any of the licensed tracks, which was common for older DDR games.
The only new gameplay features are the Groove Trigger, which allows you to boost your score once you have a full Groove Meter by sliding to A or B from the up arrow(which is near impossible to pull off on expert); and Chain Arrows which is sort of like getting star power in Guitar Hero, you chain together special arrows to get a huge score bonus if you hit them all. There is also Move support for those playing the PS3 version.
There are several options and ways to play the game, Freesyle Mode is your standard affair of pick a song, play it and get a score you can choose either single play or Multi-player. The in game options are the same as well such as speeding up the arrows, making the arrows invisible and other such tricks to artificially make the game more difficult. If you meet certain conditions on Expert for each song, such as scoring an A ranking, you will unlock Challenge mode for that song.
Next up is Club Mode, which is supposed to simulate dancing at a club by playing through 20 different pre-selected songs in a row. Now this mode is the most interesting as it starts you off on beginner and as you dance well, by getting perfect and great combos, the difficulty level increase. This however is terribly annoying to veteran players who would likely miss steps on beginner due the slow pacing and thus causing the difficulty level to not increase. But, if you can suffer through Beginner and Basic and get to Difficult then you will be rewarded with far more points and move on to Expert very quickly if you can keep your combo going. Tricks such as speed boosts and off-coloured arrows and other tricks can appear to throw you off your combo. This would all be fine if it wasn’t REQUIRED to unlock the 20 songs in the game, and they are actually worth unlocking too (Max 300, Ever Snow).
Finally, there is Dance Off which is a new spin on multi-player, which allows up to four players, and one mat, to face off against each other by playing a single song for a set number of turns (4 or more) and try and hit more steps than the other person. The thing is, if you miss a step you will cause a random effect to hinder your play (boost, switch, sudden arrow etc.) though this can be used to your advantage as it carries over to the next player for a set period of time, meaning if you miss your last step then the next player in line will be hit with an effect. This is fun in short bursts and would be great for large parties, but the fact that only one song can be played for the duration of all turns can make it a less enjoyable experience.
There aren’t any other game modes to play, but you can always hop into Training Mode if you are new to the series or enable Workout Mode to track your Calories while you play as the game is certainly a workout if you spend enough time with it.
I have only played the Xbox 360 version of the game, though the PS3 and Wii versions had motion control elements to them, I didn’t feel that I was missing out on any experience. It should be mentioned that the PS3 version is the most robust as it includes the ability to upload your gameplay session directly to Youtube from right within the game.
There was a couple features I missed in this feature that I was accustomed to in Ultramix 3, the Jukebox Mode, which allowed you to play any number of songs from the game in succession without having to play the game, making it more like a radio; and the Quest Mode, making it more game-y.
All in all I would say this is a competent DDR game, despite its lack of songs and gameplay features, but not one of the best by any means and I would only recommend it to DDR collectors, or those in need of a cheap($40 with mat) DDR game to pass the time.